Earlier this week a PR company offered me an interview with their client, which is about to release a very fast, very powerful and somewhat iconic new computer and an accompanying storage system.
Here’s my reply to the PR:
“I’m as interested in the storage device as I am in the mainframe, so if the spokesperson can talk about the storage in detail as well as the computer, that would be nice.”
Here’s the PR’s response:
“The spokesperson … can indeed talk about the storage as well as the mainframe.”*
So we booked the call, to which I duly dialled in. In between, I got the details about the computer so when the interview commenced I said I would like to move to discuss the storage right away.
The spokesperson said he was not, indeed, an expert on the storage device. In fact he knew nothing about it and had not been briefed that he would be asked about it. The spokesperson was accompanied on the call by his in-house PR, who was also ignorant of that request. So the call dissolved into a mess pretty fast.
The PR company’s response?
“I’m so sorry Simon. I was told he was more than capable of talking about storage. It won’t happen again I can assure you.”
What I want to know is who gave the assurance that the spokesperson was qualified to speak on the topic and why. Was it:
- Someone else inside the PR company who just doesn’t know that much about their client?
- Someone from the vendor?
- Someone in the PR company making it up in order to add to the tally of interviews they had achieved?
At least the incident was mercifully brief. I did not have to wade through minutes of interview to find out that there was no new information for me.
This kind of thing transpires between media and PR more or less every day. It has never stopped. It never slows. It probably never will and I should get over it. But the clients of these PR companies deserve to know what goes on.
*Lest you think the lacuna in the quote above in some way absolves the PR, it does not. I’m protecting the names of those concerned.